February 2005

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February 16, 2005:  Yep, a new look and feel to PENZ.COM is rolling out!  Updates on the weekend to follow shortly (must code..... :)


February 11, 2005: OK, finally I'm getting around to doing a few updates here, so here we go!

Heheh, let's start with a great email I got from Porky on Friday:

"remember in the first star wars when RD D2 played the video of Princess Lea saying 'Obi-Wan,  you are our only hope' this is kinda like that: http://www.cnn.com/2005/ALLPOLITICS/02/12/dean.dems/index.html "

So true, so true. Let's hope Howard Dean is the political savior we've been holding out for. 4 more years.. ugghh...

and with that said, onto the events of the past few weeks!  Well, on Friday January 28th, I flew out to Orlando, FL to spend 10 days with Becky, Lisa and Kevin. Well, I got into Orlando around 9:45 PM and Becky called me and told me to meet them in the Hyatt in the airport. "Come up to the 9th floor and we'll have dinner". Ok, I thought... not thinking that there would be a very good restaurant in the airport, but who cares, right? Well, how silly was I to think that my girls weren't going to hook me up :)  We had a fabulous meal at "Hemisphere". Great wine, food, service, and of course, company!  What a great way to start the trip (or end a long day of flying :)!  After dinner, it was back to their place on Merritt Island where we enjoyed some conversation together before heading off to bed.

On Saturday, we took off and went to the Kennedy Space Center and we had a great time!  We took the two hour bus tour around the center and that was pretty good. Got to see (from a distance) the two major launch pads used for launching the shuttles. We also go to see some really cool rocket displays at the center as well!

The highlight of the trip was seeing the 3D IMAX film on the International Space Station. In my opinion, the price of admission was worth that. It was a phenomenal filming of life aboard the station, and since it was in 3D, you just about felt like you were there!  Most cool!

Of course, we visited the astronauts memorial, which was a moving experience, since were were there right around the anniversary of most of the major tragedy's (most of which took place in the month of January...)

Penz at the Astronauts Memorial

"Whenever mankind has sought to conquer new frontiers, there have been those who have given their lives for the cause. This astronauts memorial, dedicated May 9 1991, is a tribute to American men an women who have made the ultimate sacrifice believing the conquest of space is worth the risk of life."

After leaving the center, it was back to the girls place for a little dinner party. It was Becky's father's birthday so we had a nice little gathering of friends and family to celebrate!  Great food (mmmm, tri-tip steaks, mashed broccoli & cauliflower, and all the fixins), great wines (Regucci, Clos Pegaus, and Sullivan were all enjoyed that night!) and wonderful people made for a great time. LOL, here's a picture that sums up the night. Silly, aren't we!?!!? :-)

On Sunday, we spent a nice day hanging out together. We spent part of the day down by the beach with a group of Becky and Lisa's friends who live near there. I got to meet their friend Marion and her family/friends. Nice people and fantastic weather made for a nice way to spend the afternoon :)

That night, we headed off to a work party at Bonefish Willy's. This was a cool little restaurant down by the water and the party there was a lot of fun! I got to meet a bunch of Lisa's coworkers and our table of people was surely remembered as "that table!". LOL, we consumed MANY bottles of wine that night and we were laughing and talking up a storm! After the party, we went back to some of Lisa's friends house for a 3 hour night cap which was a total blast! LOL, great way to spend the evening :)

On Monday, Becky and I worked from home. That night, we ended up getting some Italian take out and enjoying a nice quiet evening together. I think that night we cracked open the 1997 Cabernet Sauvignon from St. Suprey.

On Tuesday after work, Becky and Lisa's friend Marion came over to join us for dinner. She's a really nice person and we had a really nice evening together. 

Lisa, Marion, and Becky. The smiling girls :)

And on Wednesday morning, it was time for me to bid my girls farewell. I really didn't want to go as I had just enjoyed 5 wonderful days with them, but it was time to continue on my journey. So I jumped in my '05 Ford Mustang (courtesy of Hertz) and head off for a 4 hour drive South to Cape Coral, FL where I'd meet up with Kevin Barnes :)

Hehehe, upon arriving at the Barnes residence, I got to meet Gus. LOL, as you can see, he's a pretty ferocious Rottweiller :-).Heheh, he's sooo cute and pretty well behaved, too :)  

And of course, it was great to see Kevin! The last time I got to see him was out in Tortola last year and though we keep in pretty good contact, nothing beats actually being there with someone. 

That night, we hung out with his girlfriend KJ and went out for sushi. Hehehe, the meal wasn't bad, but it certainly wasn't up to CA sushi :P

The next day, Kevin went to work and I worked from home. That night, I shut off the laptop and we headed off to Fort Myers to see some of his friends and to drop off Gus (cause we were heading to Key West the next morning).

Hahah, well talk about a fun night! We met up with his great group of guys and after a few beers, headed off to a local watering hole for dinner. After a couple more drinks and a really good cheeseburger, it was off to the local bar where one of his friends worked. LOL, wow, needless to say, we got HOOKED UP on drinks. The night was a crazy one, as everyone seemed to be in the mood to fight! Well, everyone except me :) I broke up/prevented two fights from occurring/escalating and was able to do a pretty good job of it, despite the 1/2 bottle of Jim Beam that I think I drank :) Hehehe, it was supposed to be a 'light evening' as we had a 6 hour drive to do the next day. Well, then night ended around 2:00 AM after we closed the place and then headed back to his buddy's place to crash (luckily it was only 7 minutes away from the bar).

The next morning, we awoke around 9 and around 11:00 we actually got underway. By the grace of some god (or the three glasses of water I drank) we didn't wake up with hangovers that morning. I was thankful because 6 hours is a long time to spend in a car w/a hangover :)

The drive down to Key West was fairly uneventful (except for the damn speeding ticket that I got cruising across Route 41. Well, what the hell do you expect me to do with a brand new Mustang on a deserted back road!!! Heheheh, ahh well.... a 'souvenir' from the trip :)

6 hours later, we made it to Key West. We checked into the Budget Key West, which was a pretty decent place. It was about 6 blocks off of Duval Street, the room was clean and the beds were comfy. 

The rest of the night gets kinda hazy :) I do know we drank a hell of a lot of rum. We did stop by Margaritaville where we taught our bartender "Carol" how to make a Painkiller (or the equivalent there of). We did a pretty good job because when we stopped by the next day, she made them for us again, from memory :) We stopped by Wyland's gallery were we made one of the pretty ladies put a few painting up in the showroom for us to look at (happily, one of my sober brain cells prevented us from making a purchase that night). We also hit another gallery which had some crazy art by Tim  Cotterill. I resisted the temptation to buy this frog scultpture "Ready, Set, Go" but thankfully, that one sober brain cell allowed me to walk out without spending a thousand dollars on something I really didn't need :) For dinner that night, we found Ray's Pizza. This place actually makes authentic Philly cheese steaks (I mean they get their rolls/meat shipped in from Philly). We devoured a couple of these and they just hit the spot! Our final drinking stop that night was at Crabby Bill's where we met some really cool people and made some new friends :)

The next day, we started the day with breakfast at Blue Heaven. After a bit of a wait, we enjoyed a delicious breakfast. We both had the lobster eggs benedict with a side of bacon. <drool> MMMmmm, good way to start the day.

We then spent the next few hours walking around town and doing a little shopping/seeing the sites (other than the bars). Of course we visited the Southernmost Point in the USA, walked by the Hemmingway house and perused many of the shops along Duval.

Kevin down at the pier, enjoying the sunny weather :)

and of course, we went out drinking for the rest of the day/night! So, here are some more hazy memories.... we started at Rick's where we ended up spending the next 4 hours drinking the afternoon away as we listened to the most politically incorrect entertainer on the street! LOL, there are a few of his jokes that were pretty funny "damn, white boy should can drive <spit>" was one of them :) Hahaha, anyways, towards the end of our stay there we met a couple of interesting ladies of whom we hung out with for a bit that evening. LONG story short, one of them was there on vacation with her parents and her parents were there with another couple. Turns out, I work with one of those people and we got to meet for the first time in person, drunk in Key West! LOL, small world, funny moment :)  And Kevin had a similar experience where we randomly started talking to a few people on the street and one of them would end up being very good friends with Kevin's best friend from the island of Kwajalein (a 3 mile speck of dirk out in the Pacific!).  What are the chances of that!?!?! Crazy night :-) Oh yeah, we also met up with a fun group in Fat Tuesday's (I think...) who all worked for a company promoting professional volleyball and iron man events. LOL, they were great! MMmmm, for dinner we went back to Ray's Pizza for some more cheese steaks (hell, they were that good)! . Hehehe, well it was truly a night worth remembering... and all things considered, I'm surprised I remember that much :)

The next day, well, let's just say it was a LONG drive back to Cape Coral :)  I had a big of a hangover (where were my hangover gods!?!?!) and it took a while to recover. That night, we had some pretty damn tasty venison chili (I had actually made it on Thursday for that night) and we watched the superbowl. LOL, actually, I only made it through half of the game before I zonked out. Well, hey, I did have to get up at 2:00 AM to drive from Cape Coral to Orlando to catch my 6:50 AM flight home. LOL, can you say "THAT SUCKED!" (cause it did). Happily though, I made it w/o falling asleep at the wheel and my flight was on time. Happily, I slept the entire way back to CA (and most of the rest of the day...).

If you couldn't figure it out, I had a GREAT time in FL. Thanks again to Becky, Lisa and Kevin for a wonderful visit. I look forward to my next trip back there :)

And so now, I'm back in CA :-)  and yes, it is nice to be home :)

More updates about the weekend to follow (heading up to wine country on Saturday and we'll see what Sunday holds)


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